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N.C. ban on same-sex marriage tested

Angela Myers (left) and Stephanie Lewis got a hug of support from a friend before they applied for a marriage license.

Erin Brethauer/The Asheville Citizen-Times via Associated Press

Angela Myers (left) and Stephanie Lewis got a hug of support from a friend before they applied for a marriage license.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — For years, Mitch Fortune and Jake Crouch have been prevented from getting married by laws making same-sex marriage illegal in North Carolina.

So when they heard the county’s top record-keeper was going to accept same-sex marriage license requests Tuesday, they headed to his office. With his action, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger became one of the first officials in the South to take such applications from same-sex couples.

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‘‘This is a big step,’’ said Crouch, 29, a climatologist who works for the federal government.

Reisinger accepted marriage license requests from 10 same-sex couples on Tuesday, despite a 2012 amendment to the state constitution forbidding such marriages.

Reisinger said he will hold the licenses and ask state Attorney General Roy Cooper for legal advice. Reisinger said he believes the state’s ban is unconstitutional.

Cooper said Monday that he supports gay marriage but will defend the ban. A spokeswoman for Cooper said the licenses cannot be issued.

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